HOW TO GET KAWAH IJEN/IJEN CRATER FROM BALI AND BACK TO BALI AGAIN IN 2 DAYS 1 NIGHT
We booked the Kawah ijen tour from Bali from the most recommended travel agency in Java Island, Java Adventure Trail Services, it has two travel website; bluefireijentour.com and javaadventuretrail.com. The tour seems very interesting with affordable price for any kind of travelers. On day 1, our driver ((which was arranged by Mr. Sofyan (the owner of Java Adventure Trail Services)) picked us up at our hotel at around 10:00 AM, Bali time. It took us around 6 hours to reach Gilimanuk port. However, we had a few stops for some picture takings along the way. There are some beautiful spots along the highway such as rice fields and beach. The long drive was not boring or tiring at all since we were having fun during the trip.
Upon our arrival at Gilimanuk harbor, a staff sent by Mr. Sofyan picked us up and assisted us to the ferry, and even helped us carry some of our backpacks. The ferry ride was about 1 hour, but it was convenient since we were able to find seats in the air-conditioned room. Take note, there is 1-hour difference between Java and Bali; Bali is 1 hour ahead of Java.
When we arrived at the Ketapang harbor in Java’s side, there we met Mr. Sofyan and another driver. They drove us to our hotel in Banyuwangi (Manyar Hotel) and gave us a few hours to rest. At around 7:00 PM Java time, we had a good dinner at the hotel’s restaurant and went back to our rooms for a nap in preparation for our midnight trek to Mt. Ijen.
At around 11:00 PM, Mr. Sofyan and his driver picked us up at our hotel. It was 1-hour drive from our hotel to the starting point (base camp) in Ijen Crater. We did not have to worry about bringing flashlights and masks since Mr. Sofyan can provide it all. Also, hikers can buy gloves, water, etc. at the base camp. However, we also brought our own flashlights and masks at that time.
At midnight, we started our trek. For beginners or first timers like me, it was quite tough as the path was so steep all the way up to the peak. But, you don’t have to worry because Sofyan and his co-guide are very nice and patient to let you rest as much as you want (like I did).
It was such a fine night and the weather was totally perfect! We even stopped at one side (cliff side) and took pictures of the stars. The skies were so clear that night that we could see a sea of stars, perhaps the Milky Way too!
After hiking for about 3 km, we finally reached the top. Then, with all our masks on, we started the tougher downward hike to the crater to see the blue fire. The path was all made of huge rocks! We met several sulfur miners along the way, carrying loads of sulfur (about 80-100 kg) on their backs! The path was very steep, slippery and scary. So, we went down slowly and carefully, making sure of our every step as it was just a few meters away from the acid lake.
When we got closer to where the blue fire is, it was nothing but very astonishing! However, the foul smell of the sulfur was getting stronger as we get closer. We stayed for a couple of minutes to take pictures of the blue fire that was coming out from the sides of the crater.
When we got back to the summit of Ijen Crater, we waited for the sunrise. As the light came into the crater, all we saw was a breathtaking view around us! We were so amazed at how beautiful the rocks were, the sea of clouds, the burnt woods from previous eruptions, and most especially the turquoise crater lake! It was indeed very beautiful and breathtaking! At around 8:00 AM, we started walking down back to the base camp of Ijen Crater.
On our way back to the hotel, we had several stops as Mr. Sofyan took us for a special tour to a few interesting spots which were not included in the tour package. Firstly, we stopped at a coffee and clove plantation. Mr. Sofyan was very knowledgeable and shared us a lot of information about coffee, culture, geography, etc. He was able to answer almost (if not all) every question we asked! But one of the best parts of our side trips was when he brought us to a local coffee shop/factory where they roast and pack coffee beans manually in a traditional kitchen! The owner was very accommodating and even gave all of us a cup of Java coffee for a free taste! As coffee lovers, it was a great bonus to us! We bought a few packs of their manually roasted coffee and brought them home. Thanks to Mr. Sofyan for taking us on that absolutely wonderful side trip! It was one of the unexpected highlights of that tour!
At around noontime, we arrived at our hotel, took a quick shower, and had a sumptuous lunch with Mr. Sofyan and his driver. They then drove us back to Ketapang harbor. Overall, it was a truly wonderful experience! Thumbs up to Mr. Sofyan and all his company!